Bedeau & Fenton-Wilkinson’s Heroine AFROELLA Boldly Funks Where No One Has Funked Before & Alex Yarde digs it!
AFROELLA is a hilarious, new, Glyph Award nominated, independent comic book space opera published by Kromatron Comics and featuring the dynamic duo of writer, Gemma Miriam Bedeau, and artist, Lee Fenton-Wilkinson. (see their Kickstarter campaign here) I discovered AFROELLA as I feverishly combed the main floor between panels at the recent NYCC this October. The titular character is Agent 36-24-36 of the Cosmic Alliance. She is it’s best and most decorated operative code name: AFROELLA. She has a brassy, sassy, don’t funk with me attitude. She was born on the planet Kopasetic in the Supafly Nebula and trained in Kung Fu at the One Nation Under Funk Institute. I want Pam Grier to play her in the movie! AFROELLA is a terrifically, fun homage to the ’70’s Black Power movement and the grind house Blaxploitation films of the era (like Get Christy Brown or Coffy )as well as psychodellic ’60s Science fiction films like Mars Needs Women and Flash Gordon. As a matter of fact I’d say AFROELLA was the the love child of Michael Jai White’s Black Dynamite and Jane Fonda’s Barberella.
On her epically, funky adventures AFROELLA is aided by her Digital Interactive Virtual Assistant (DIVA), an alien life form with the ability to access and control data and assume any virtual form. It serves as First Officer of the Alliance Starcraft Fierce, which acts as her host vessel she can download herself to AFROELLA’s standard issue Fabulizer headset (think google glass) where she constantly cracks wise. AFROELLA reports to Supreme Commander J Fondane, a shadowy figure that formed the elite agency of various specially trained life forms from across the cosmos. Her stated mission is “To protect the liberties of peoples from all planets without breaking a nail.” Commander Fondane was the first Elite Lunisolar Liberty Agent (ELLA) and leads the ELLA fleet.
The initial mission is packed with writer Bedeau”s sharp wit, double entendres and rapid fire tongue in cheek pop cultural references. When taking on the multi tenticaled Crâkenhöl, (a Japanese Hentai monster ) DIVA quips, “Why is it every other planet we visit has these sticky tentacle perverts?” In a battle with a female army of Scilla based, Borg-like robots (the RAD10 GaGas are playful shade thrown in Lady GaGa’s direction), the wisecracking DIVA says, “Robo hoes that all came to the party in the same outfit!” As she leaps Captain Kirk style into battle wielding her Raygun, the “Slamma Jamma” and shouting her signature “LET’S DANCE JIVE TURKEY!!” Afterwards, she “unwinds” Kirk style as well, partying with the very grateful (and amorous) race of green insectoids, called Hâsgröppans, I can’t help but giggle at the sheer irreverent fun I’m having with this book!
The art is solid too. Artist Fenton-Wikinson uses a tight, retro scifi design background, which has a futuristic look (circa 1960), with an attractive purple tinge throughout the issue. Anyone who owned a felt, blacklit Zodiac picture of soulful lovers intwined or a lava lamp will dig it! All characters share a bright primary color palate and attractive, slightly exaggerated proportions similar to the style of Bodé’s Cheech Wizard, who was a french illustrator popular with graffiti artist of the early ’80s. I fondly appreciate this style having grown up writing graffiti (badly) in the Bronx, N.Y. during that time.
AFROELLA is ultimately a “Strawberry Letter 22” to a specific cultural era in the Black Experience in America. Despite that, the references to “Black Power” and films like Black Dynamite ensure that the humor remains so universal it is accessible to anyone. Some younger readers, however, may not appreciate the nuanced vernacular or black cultural references. In that case, find a friend who speaks Jive! Do yourself a favor and track down all four issues of AFROELLA. Sho’you right!
— Lee Fenton-Wilkinson / Kromatron Comics